FBI searching for missing Ga. businessman Aubrey "Lee" Price accused of swindling millions

According to an arrest affidavit, the scheme unraveled when his colleagues started hearing rumors that he'd embezzled money from his investment fund, then committed suicide

Channel2 GA Daily News has learned the FBI has now asked a federal judge to issue an arrest warrant for a missing Georgia businessman.

Aubrey "Lee" Price is suspected of defrauding more than 100 investors throughout Georgia and Florida.

According to an arrest affidavit, Price's scheme unraveled in June when his colleagues started hearing rumors that he'd embezzled money from his investment fund, then committed suicide.

Federal investigators in Atlanta found Price was faking balance sheets to cover for the missing money. Now he's missing too.

Both of the McDonough addresses which used to be home to the Price Financial Group offices are now occupied by other companies.

Federal investigators said Price devised a scheme to defraud investors out of millions of dollars and committed wire fraud in the process.

The affidavit alleges he directed employees of a South Georgia bank subsidiary to wire millions of dollars to an investment account. Then, investigators say, Price created fake balance sheets to cover either bad trades he made, or theft.

On Monday, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission got a court order to freeze Price's assets after his wife reported him missing.

"His wife and several other family members received letters from price indicating he had traveled to Key West Florida," said Sgt. Aaron Pritchett of the Lowndes County Sheriff's Office.

A civil action filed by the SEC says Price sent a 22 page letter titled "Confidential Confession for Regulators" and admitted he "falsified statements with false returns in order to conceal between $20 million and $23 million in investor losses."

Roughly 115 investors had invested about $40 million with him.

The arrest affidavit said "Price told others he planned to kill himself off the coast of Florida by jumping off of a ferry boat." It adds that "despite a recent search by the Coast Guard, Price's body has not been recovered."

"He boarded a ferry from Key West to Fort Myers and subsequently we do not know whether he exited that boat willingly or if he actually got off the boat in Fort Myers," added Pritchett.

The document says Price "owns real estate in Venezuela … frequently traveled to Venezuela and Guatemala … (and) may own a boat that would be large enough to travel to Venezuela from Florida."

The documents indicate that investigators have not committed to whether they think Price stole money from the investors or whether his actions were an effort to cover for bad trading decisions.

In addition, the records indicate that investigators are considering whether Price may have tried to fake his own death, rather than actually committing suicide.

By Lena Sullivan 07/05/2012 04:32:00

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